December 26, 2009

Viktor IV, Floating structures


this picture and the next one (1986) courtesy of 
Peter Thomsen Galleri 5000, Odense, Denmark

The picture shows the Berendina Fennegina, a typical dutch name for this ship, a tjalk. In former times in the Netherlands such a ship was used for bulk transport on the inner sea and the canals. The ship is in the Amstel river and it is moored in the heart of the city of Amsterdam, close to the Town Hall, the Waterlooplein flea market and the Amsterdam Hermitage Museum.

From the mid 1960's untill the mid 1980's Walter Karl Glückd (1929-1986) lived on this ship.  He was a self-taught artist, who in his own way gave colour to the city. As the Mayor and Aldermen wrote in 1986 after he died: "In Amsterdam "it" happens: the playful, the surprising. Walter Glück was pre-eminently the man to colour this in his own, special way"

Life and works

Born in New York City, Walter Karl Glück as a young man followed some courses, with the idea to become a freelance photographer and journalist. He had all kinds of jobs, working in an ice-cream factory and being a lifeguard (he was a good swimmer).

In 1961 he made a European trip, travelling in an old van through France, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, England, Belgium, Danemark, Sweden and Russia, untill he arrived in Amsterdam, Netherlands, were he decided to settle. He rather quickly got a permit to stay, what nowadays would not so easy be done.



After 1961 Glück continued travellling and doing photography. He also did some painting, untill in 1964 the murdering of Kennedy was a turning point in his life. It made him decide to become a full-time artist. He bought an old ship moored in the Amstel river in which he installed a studio. With a lot of energy he focused upon painting colorful scenes on driftwood and old hatches he collected in the harbour.

He named these creations "Ikons" and he called himself Viktor IV, both namings without any religious connotation.

His work attracted attention of professionals in the Amsterdam art world. In january 1966 Viktor IV had an exposition in the Lefebre Gallery in New York. His work was introduced by Willem Sandberg, untill 1962 director of the Amsterdam Stedelijk (Municipal) Museum.

The expo was so profitable that Glück could buy another, better ship, the Berendina Fennegina.

In the early 1970's Amsterdan became kind of a hippy paradise. Young people from all over the world flocked the city and would spend the night on Dam Square and in the public Vondelpark. Open air sleeping was soon regulated by providing sleep ins, but the scene in the city in general remained free, tolerant and creative.

Viktor IV in his own way made a contribution to this scene, by surrounding his houseboat with all kinds of floatable constructions which included climbable towers and masts. People in tourist boats would applaud when he dived from these vertical constructions and swam around in the river.

The harbour authorities took a mild eye on these constructions and were able to convince Glück that expanding horizontally rather than vertically was to be preferred, probably with the provision that he would not try to reach the opposite border of the river.

Viktor IV's outsider environment has been extant in the 1970's and 80's.

In his development as an artist from 1970 on, Glück paid less attention to making Ikons, but began making logbook notes, i.e. texts, notes, drawings on sheets of paper, commenting on what happend in his life and in the world, all together some 5000 sheets. In 1977 they were exposed in the Amsterdam Stedelijk (Municipal) Museum

Then, in 1972, together with his partner Ina, he had met in 1968 in Denmark, he founded the Second Quality Construction Company. That marked the beginning of the construction of the rafts around the ship, made from all kinds of thrown away materials. In this periode Glück called himself Jack Sun (but most people would refer to him as Viktor IV).


Another artistic period began around 1975 when Glück got the fantasy to be of Bulgarian descent and began to call himself Bulgar.

He became very interested in clocks and created all kinds of clockworks, freely interpreting the position of the figures on the dial or letting the hands turn backwards. Bulgar Time (1980)......

the burial (1986), courtesy Peter Thomsen

In june 1986, while repairing the underwater connections of the floating structures, Glück got entangled in the ropes and sadly drowned. He was buried in the Zorgvlied graveyard, along the Amstel river, some kilometers up stream. His body was transported by ship, in a procession of numerous other ships.

Floating structures have disappeared

Following Carl Glück's death, the floating structures gradually disappeared. One part has been moved to another Amsterdam channel, the Geldersekade, in the heart of the old town.

 this and the next picture courtesy 

Above and below pictures were made in april 2002. The construction had become kind of a floating greening, gratefully used by waterfowl and adding some greenery to the otherwise urban town centre. 


In 2004 however, the authorities thought it wise to clean up what they considered as a "mess", a decision taken lightly, since nowadays it is offficial policy to add floating gardens for waterfowl to canals, so the city might have made impression with this precursor of its green policy (and would have shown some respect for its non-mainstream cultural heritage)

The Berendina Fennegina currently still lies at the same place. It is exploited as a hostel for their members by the Danish Asssociation of Architects.

actual situation (2010), the building in the background is the
Amsterdam Hermitage Museum

Some documentation
* Since 2006 a dutch foundation aims to inventarise and promote Glück's artistic work. Their website  has many pictures (texts in dutch and english).
* Examples of Viktor IV's work can be seen on the site of Galleri 5000.

Viktor IV (Walter Karl Glück)
Floating structures (around houseboat)
Amstel River, near Blauwbrug
Amsterdam
the structures are no longer extant
streetview

6 comments:

  1. Wow, interesting and too bad most everything is gone ; (

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sometime around 1955, my husband, Thom, and I became friends with Karl when Thom and Karl were both working as lifeguards at a NYC pool.As the years passed, Karl traveled more and more, always sending letters to keep us informed of his whereabouts. He asked me to save those letters as his plan was to make them into a book.Sometime in the mid 80s, those letters stopped coming and since then, off and on,I have tried to locate Karl. Sadly, just this week, my daughter googled Karl under the name of VictorIV and we found out about Karl's death.
    Joan Peters joankatt@austin.rr.com 17. Oct. 2010

    ReplyDelete
  3. Friend of Victot IV, Testing

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Friend, much missed, and much learned from Victor IV.
    The years of 1966 and beyond were wondrous in Amsterdam, with many "colorful" adventures with 'Karl' through the back streets and canals of his chosen city of warmth.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Friend, much missed, and much learned from Victor IV.
    The years of 1966 and beyond were wondrous in Amsterdam, with many "colorful" adventures with 'Karl' through the back streets and canals of his chosen city of warmth.

    ReplyDelete